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Blackfriars Circus, Blackfriars

Semi-derelict brownfield site becomes high-density, sustainable, city centre neighbourhood

Blackfriars Circus.
Blackfriars Circus. Credit: David Grandorge

RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA London Regional Award winner 2021


Maccreanor Lavington for Barratt London
Contract value: £105m
GIA: 39,467m2
Cost per m2: £2,500

Challenged with a brief to rejuvenate a semi-derelict brownfield site, the architect responded by creating a sustainable new neighbourhood. The scheme comprises several blocks with attractive roof gardens and a 28-storey tower. It restores the urban grain and creates new public realm and welcome breathing space, repairing a large portion of the street and revitalising the St George’s Circus area generally.

The mixed-use scheme creates 336 new homes, including 56 social rent homes for Southwark Council. It also incorporates two new public spaces within the block and a yard surrounded by units aimed at small enterprises, with a café on the adjacent square.

Blocks respectfully reference the past, with robust detailing of the window surrounds and horizontal bands defining floor levels. A lot of work has gone into the facade design, including attractive metal railings and subtly multi-coloured brickwork in intriguing patterns, using glazed bricks of different shapes and sizes. The tower is located just off the circus and despite its scale, fits well in the overall streetscape. Double-height ground floors lead to commercial spaces; perhaps the most interesting of these is the atrium off the circus which, with its translucent roof, provides colonnaded access to the flats. It feels timeless.

  • Blackfriars Circus.
    Blackfriars Circus. Credit: David Grandorge
  • Blackfriars Circus.
    Blackfriars Circus. Credit: David Grandorge
  • Blackfriars Circus.
    Blackfriars Circus. Credit: David Grandorge
  • Blackfriars Circus.
    Blackfriars Circus. Credit: David Grandorge
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Given the size of the project and its many constraints, the result is a great achievement. It reactivates the area with many new residential and commercial units, all supported by pockets of new public realm. The judges visited during the lockdown when the streets were still fairly quiet. With a return to normal life, it is anticipated that this new addition to Southwark will become a lively quarter.


See the rest of the London South East winners here

And all the RIBA Regional Awards here

See other RIBA National Awards 2021 winners, Housing, here

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